Attending open houses in [area] can be a lot of fun. After all, how often do you get a chance to tour other people’s houses without restriction? However, when you’re serious about buying a home, it’s time to start asking the serious questions.
1. Why are the sellers moving?
Truth be told, you may not get a straight answer on this one, but it’s good to ask anyway. Doing so can give you some insight into the sellers’ motivation, which can be a powerful tool if you decide to make an offer. If, for example, the agent tells you that the sellers are moving for a new job, then you know that they likely have a deadline to meet in their move and may be more flexible on price.
2. How long has the home been on the market?
This is another question that can be helpful in guiding your offer, should you decide to write one up. Time on market is one of the biggest indicators of flexibility on price. Typically, if a home was put up for sale in the last few days, sellers are willing to pass over low-ball offers and wait for something better. If, however, the house has been sitting for a while without interest, they may be more open to negotiating.
3. What school district are we in?
Whether or not you envision kids in your future, you should inquire about the school district. The reality is, even if you don’t have little ones, the school district will still affect you as a homeowner. It impacts what you pay in taxes as well as your ability to sell in the future, since most people want to be positioned near good schools.
4. Are there any offers on the table?
If so, find out how many and when the sellers are planning to make their final decision. It’s important to know what you’re up against; if you’re interested in the home, this dictates when and how you submit your offer. If there are multiple offers on the table, you may have to move more quickly, and you’ll want to put together the strongest offer possible.
5. May I have a Seller’s Property Disclosure?
Whenever a home goes on the market in [area], the sellers must fill out a Seller’s Property Disclosure to the best of their ability. This document details all of the home’s systems (as well as their ages), any major renovations and any known problems. It’s essentially your guide to the condition of the home.